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This week at the Arizona Capitol: 'Taylor Swift bill,' blocking adult content and possible EPA fight

The Arizona Senate is scheduled to take final votes on Monday on a pair of bills that would place some restrictions on the buying and reselling of tickets to events.

It’s part of a long agenda in that chamber, as committee work has ended for the session — the budget, when it comes out, will be the exception to that.

With The Show, as he is every Monday during the session to talk about what to expect this week at the state Capitol, is Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services.

Full interview

MARK BRODIE: So let's talk about these bills which have been dubbed, I believe the Taylor Swift bills, dealing with like the circumstances in which you can resell tickets and the way in which you might be able to buy them.

HOWARD FISCHER: Well, the more sweeping one has to do with bots. Essentially, these are computer programs that go in and fool the system into thinking that, oh, I'm only buying the four tickets allowed. They get around certain things like that are supposed to prevent people from calling in again because they're computerized, they can do it so much faster. As you mentioned with Taylor Swift, what happened here with her first concert in the series last time, is that the bots bought up all the tickets before they were available to the general public. And clearly that wasn't her intent.

That also left a lot of Arizonans very disappointed because then they were stuck having to buy tickets on the secondary market at much-inflated prices. The belief is that if you somehow outlaw the bots, and that's assuming this is enforceable, that you'll provide more opportunities for individuals. The other is a little more wonky and it has to do with ticket resales and nothing would outlaw ticket resales. But it says you actually have to have that ticket in hand, because what's happened sometimes is people will sell, I guess what you'd call an option, where they say, oh, we've got a ticket here, and all of a sudden people find out, well, I bought something that does not yet exist. And it leaves a lot of people very unhappy. A lot of the ticket resellers do this practice saying, well, we're sure we will get the tickets at some point. Again, you know, not exactly the most consumer-friendly issue. So, Rep. David Cook, who has led the charge on this, says, look, we're gonna make things a lot simpler for Arizonans and we're gonna make sure that they have a fair chance at getting to see Adele, Taylor Swift, who knows, maybe the Monkeys are coming back.

BRODIE: That seems kind of unlikely at this point. But Howie, you mentioned the enforceability aspect of the, the bots issue. What has, has testimony, what have have supporters anyway said is the the option to actually enforce this, especially if those bots are being operated outside of Arizona?

FISCHER: Well, that becomes an issue. They believe that somehow the folks who are making the tickets available have certain protections they can take to make sure that in fact, these are live people. Again, I am sort of, you know, I have just enough knowledge about computers to be dangerous if you will. So, can this work theoretically, I suppose? You know, but every time and we've seen this in so many different issues, every time somebody puts in a new restriction, somebody finds a way around. But it at least tries to close the door. I mean, the intent is good and to the extent it can be enforced, great.

BRODIE: Howie, there's also a bill on that same Senate agenda dealing with age restrictions for certain websites. This is of course an issue that lots and lots of states have been tackling in various ways. What is the effort here?

FISCHER: The idea is that if you have material that is inappropriate for children, whether it has to do with sex, nudity, that you should have to say only adults can see it. Now again, nobody wants to restrict what adults can see. I won't say nobody, but at least not as far as this bill. This would require the content provider, you know, something like Pornhub, to find a way to verify age through a third party. Now, this is where it gets really wonky. You know, do you have a company that can say we have verified through somebody's credit card or driver's license that they are in fact of age. But now you into the question of, are you creating a database somewhere of people who may be adults may be entitled to look at this stuff, but somebody had now has a list of, oh, you know Howie Fisher looks at Pornhub. And therefore, somehow we're gonna find a way to you to shame him, to doxx him or whatever else.

And, and I think that's where the concern is. I think everybody wants to protect children. And the, but how do you do that in a way that that doesn't interfere with private rights? And again, they want to do this through third -party providers as opposed to the government because nobody wants the government to have this information. But how much can you trust third-party providers, number one. And number two, as we saw, for example, with AT&T, all of a sudden your files get raided into some nefarious person or organization now has access to all that information. How much can you keep private in that way?

BRODIE: Right. Well, Howie, it seems like this one kind of like the ticket bought bill, might have an issue with how you actually go about enforcing it.

FISCHER: Well, several states have tried. I think what happened in Texas is that Pornhub did in fact pull out, saying we don't want to be doing that. So to that extent it was successful, but it was also successful for the people who are legally entitled to view pictures that are available on Pornhub or videos. So, you know, it's, it's, it's a very tricky balancing act there. I'm sure that there are gonna be further legal challenges to that. Leaving aside the technical challenges.

BRODIE: Right. Howie, I want to ask you lastly about a bill dealing with the vehicle emissions testing. This is one that, you know, pretty much every car owner has to deal with at some point or another. What, what would this one do right now?

FISCHER: If you have a car that's under 5 years old, you do not need its emission tested. The presumption is that when cars are new, they tend not to fall out of emission exposure, you know, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, things like that. This would say any vehicle manufactured after 2018 going forward does not have to be emission tested. Yeah, it's true te new cars are in fact safer than, you know, they have less pollution than that 1953 Buick that may be sitting out in your driveway, but they can still run into problems. You know, older vehicles do run into problems. You know, they get out of tune. Even with electronic tuning. It's not the old days of points, plugs and condensers and everything else, but electronics can get out out of whack. And that's part of the reason that on the newer cars, you just plug in that little device under the dashboard and they can tell is the, everything tuned properly.

Now, the other piece of the problem with that is the Environmental Protection Agency does not allow what they call backsliding. So, if the EPA believes that this will result in dirtier air, particularly here in the Valley, where we are just barely skating by, they will say no. Now, are we prepared to go to war with the EPA? Fighting with the EPA, as we've seen with the new lawsuit by the, the Legislature and the chamber, is an uphill battle. And you know, the federal government has a lot of powers to do a lot of things and hurt you in a lot of ways, like cutting off federal dollars.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.